Historic wool press set to be attraction for Orroroo

WOOL PRESS RESTORED: Dean and Brian Keatley, of Jamestown, are pictured with the five-metre high wool press.

WOOL PRESS RESTORED: Dean and Brian Keatley, of Jamestown, are pictured with the five-metre high wool press.

A historic one-tonne long screw mechanical wool press, believed to be the only one of its kind in Australia, could soon find a new home as a tourist attraction at Orroroo.

The piece of equipment, an enormous innovation in the 19th and 20th centuries, was located at what was once Black Rock Station and has been carefully restored by Dean Keatley and his brother, Brian, both of Jamestown. 

The Keatleys trace their family roots back to Black Rock and further north, with Dean and Brian’s parents’ former property once part of the station. 

Dean said they had known about the press since they were kids but it wasn’t until his brother was camping more recently and saw that the shearing shed’s roof had blown off that they decided to take action.

“We knew that it was unique,” he said.

A crane was needed to lift out the five-metre high behemoth from the property, now owned by Tony and Barbara Nutt, and the unique item soon found a temporary home in Dean’s shed where the mammoth task of restoration started. 

Dean, himself, has spent 360 hours painstakingly working on returning the press to its former glory.

He raised $1700 to fund the restoration work and thanked people who have contributed to the project, including the Nutts who donated the wool press. 

Part of the restoration work included the construction of a new base as its old base was rotten.

Dean constructed a new base using recycled timber to replicate the original.

When disassembling the press, a remnant of the original paintwork enabled for its original colour to be matched. 

The District Council of Orroroo Carrieton have indicated that they are committed to showcasing the piece of equipment in Orroroo’s main street.

A Black Rock Wool Press Working Party has been established to start discussions on a possible location, structure to house the press and grant funding applications. 

The group are seeking more information about the history and origin of the press.